Steve Sachs Duke


Saturday, September 18, 2004


The Many Perils: I received my renter's insurance policy in the mail this morning, and was surprised to learn of the various "perils" against which my apartment is now protected. I had no idea the world was so perilous a place. Among the standard set -- fire, lightning, theft, windstorm, hail (except for "loss to watercraft") -- I'm also protected against "Explosion," "Vehicles," and "Riot or Civil Commotion, including pillage and looting" (should the Vikings return, and their dragon-prowed ships drop anchor in the port of New Haven).

Another clause offers coverage for damage caused by "Aircraft, including self-propelled missiles and spacecraft." I wonder which Allstate actuary sat down and calculated the chances of damage due to falling spacecraft; yet it's comforting to know, in case I end up with a chunk of Mir sticking out of my apartment, that I'll be insured. (There's no limitation on the spacecraft's initial point of departure, so presumably I'm also protected against any UFOs that should make crash landings in Connecticut. A full-scale alien invasion, of course, would be outside the coverage limit, which does not include "War or warlike acts, including but not limited to insurrection, rebellion or revolution," unless the aliens are sufficiently playful as to be categorized under "Vandalism and Malicious Mischief." I'd also be out of luck if the aliens use their toxic chemicals on us, since the policy does not cover "any bodily injury which results in any manner from the discharge, dispersal, release, or escape of vapors, fumes, acids, toxic chemicals, toxic gases, toxic liquids, toxic solids, waste materials or other irritants, contaminants or pollutants." Unless, of course, "such discharge . . . is sudden and accidental." No comment.)

A few other miscellaneous perils go uncovered, including "Nuclear action, meaning nuclear reaction, discharge, radiation or radioactive contamination," which will not be considered "loss by fire, explosion or smoke." Nor am I protected against "Earth movement of any type, including but not limited to earthquake, volcanic eruption, lava flow, landslide, subsidence, mudflow, pressure, sinkhole, erosion, or the sinking, rising, shifting, creeping (!), expanding, bulging, cracking, settling, or contracting (!!) of the earth." (Damage caused by the expansion or contraction of the universe receives no mention.) Finally, there's no information on whether I'm insured against damage caused by asteroids (unless considered "Falling Objects"), ravenous wolves, monster attacks, or a giant swarm of bees. I'll be on the phone to Allstate first thing Monday morning.

UPDATE: My brother writes to remind me that there's another grave peril Allstate doesn't cover: Robots. Attack by Robots.




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